Wed
Dec 12 2012 10:30am

Sifting for Gold: Bad Guys We Love

Oh, Richard Armitage, you play bad so good!After a year and a half of recapping Once Upon a Time for Heroes and Heartbreakers, I find that the real attraction for me isn't the love story of Snow White and Prince Charming. Instead, the reason I watch is the draw of the Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin character brought to life by actor Robert Carlyle.

He's referenced as the dark one, and yet there is a spark there! Deep in that black heart of his he knows what love feels like. It's obvious when he talks to Belle, Emma, and Henry. Combine that with his maniacal behavior, chittering laugh and outlandish costumes and you have hit GOLD!

 So now lets look at some other baddies from television, film, and books we unabashedly love.

Sir Guy Gisbourne (BBC's Robin Hood, played by Richard Armitage)
He's insecure, not too smart, and motivated to get ahead by doing practically anything Prince John tells him to do. He does some really despicable things, but the torture is read in his eyes, deep pools of regret and dishonor. What is he really looking for? Acceptance and love? Tell me, what women doesn't want to fix that? Let's not forget all his leather outfits too; who knew Sir Guy was a goth?

Severus Snape (Harry Potter Series, played by Alan Rickman in the films)
Okay, yeah, he's whiny, surly, and completely controlling, and he has a real dislike for the junior Potter (or does he?). He never smiles, is never happy, and takes pleasure in the misfortune of others. But Snape sees the greater good and acts accordingly. He's a difficult character because he always gives you a reason to dislike him—and yet we love him. He is by far my favorite character in the HP series.

Damon Salvatore (The Vampire Diaries, played by Ian Somerhalder)
Damon likes to kill...A LOT. In fact, he seems to take great pleasure in it. He is fiercely loyal to his brother Stefan, became best friends with Rose, and, well, this latest development of falling in love with Elena makes him just good enough to like, but he's still damn bad.

Eric Northman (True Blood, played by Alexander Skarsgard)
Eric is a complex character. When he's first introduced, he's undoubtedly bad. Only interested in blood, sex, and power, Eric wields his minions in all kinds of power plays just to show them who's boss. Then Sookie appears and eventually melts his cold heart and we see a different side of him.

Lover Awakened by J. R. WardZsadist (Lover Awakened, Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J. R. Ward)
Another killing machine, Zsadist takes pleasure in other people's fear and pain. Tortured as a youth, this vampire is as broken as they come. Zsadist is the loose cannon of the brotherhood. Then he meets Bella, another broken vampire, and she reaches his soft gooey center. The thing I love about Zsadist is he has kept his tortured unpredictability intact, but now he's just showing his heart.

So here are my top baddies—all of these boys have done evil deeds, and yet we still love them! Do you have a special evil genius that you love? Do tell!

Bad to the Bone runners up:

  • Terrible from the Downside Series by Stacia Kane
  • Xan Marcelles from the Crooked Fang series by Carrie Clevenger

Special thanks to my co-bookseller and partner in crime Holly Lawson for television character suggestions. You rock, Hol!


Synde Korman talks music and books on her website Tombstone Tails, along with creating a line of literary jewelry on her etsy site Cemetery Cat Designs.

When she’s not herding cats or creating art, she works as a part-time bookseller. You can find her on twitter as @psynde.

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9 comments
Regina Thorne
1. reginathorn
My number-one all-time favorite bad boy is Jaime Lannister, from George R. R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series (and from HBO's "Game of Thrones.") Also, Brian de Bois-Guilbert (from Ivanhoe, especially when portrayed by Ciaran Hinds on TV) and Jax Teller from "Sons of Anarchy." (Doesn't hurt that Charlie Hunnam is like unto a god :D)
Jena Briars
2. CutMyTeethOnKleypas
(Ditto on the Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold fascination.)

I also want to say a few of the "villains" from The Wire (so compelling!) Omar, Stringer Bell, etc.

@reginathron - I was also going to say Jaime Lannister - but I'm truly creeped out by the inceset-factor.
Regina Thorne
3. reginathorn
@CutMyTeethOnKleypas - Heh, I think there's something wrong with me, because the incest thing really doesn't bother me (partly because it's consensual and partly because its origins are convincingly explained in the books and partly because the Targaryens did it for generations - Danaerys and Viserys are also the products of brother/sister incest, so you can see it's a 50/50 chance of crazy kids :D) Plus, I love that it's such a twisted take on courtly romance - if Jaime and Cersei weren't a) twins; b) horrible people, they'd be very much in the mode of Lancelot and Guinevere or Tristan and Iseult ... Also, I think a lot of my love comes from stuff that hasn't happened on the series yet.

Also, want to agree with you on "The Wire" villains, ESPECIALLY Stringer Bell!! Ooof!

@Synde - I forgot to add Cesare Borgia from "The Borgias" series (played by François Arnaud) - he is a very, very bad man, clearly, but also incredibly charismatic. And he manages to be sexy even in the long gowns of a cardinal!
Jena Briars
4. CutMyTeethOnKleypas
@regina - No, I hear you; once I got through book 1, after all the detailed explanation, it became such a rich part of the saga. And I even love the way Tyrion uses this for his own politicking/manipulations. (Danaerys's plot line and Tyrion's plot line are my two FAVORITES.)
Darlene Marshall
5. darlenemarshall
You know I have much love for Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin. I think part of our attraction to these guys is they strike as more complicated than the good guys. Even Oliver Queen on Arrow isn't entirely good. Much more interesting that way.
Patricia Wilkerson
6. Proofreaderpat
I love Lothaire from Kresley Cole's "Immortals After Dark" series .
Synde Korman
7. SyndeKorman
@Proofreaderpat a friend suggest Lothaire and I almost used him. But the others won out.. ;)
Kate Sterling
8. Kate Sterling
Yes, yes, yes! You listed all my favorites up there. (With one exception - I'd never seen/heard of Sir Guy Gisbourne, but now you've given me something to look forward to!) I also always wanted the phantom of the opera to end up with the girl.
Kate Sterling
9. Barbara Leigh
Oh Kate, you are in for a HUGE treat when you watch Richard Armitage pre Hobbit as Guy Of Gisborne, love sick, desperate and HOT! oh boy...all that leather...the form fitting leather... Enjoy!!
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